Breakthrough makes cell-based beef a thousand times cheaper to produce, SCiFi Foods claims

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AUTHOR: Molly Long
Lab grown cultured meat concept for artificial in vitro cell culture meat production with packed raw burger patties

Cell-based beef is one step closer to the world’s dinner table, according to foodtech start-up SCiFi Foods.

The California-based cultivated meat company has claimed to have been able to utilise technology which makes its cell-based beef a thousand times cheaper to produce.

It says it is the first organisation in the world to produce edible beef cell lines that grow in single-cell suspension.

Other companies working in the field of beef cultivation typically grow their cells adherently (attached to a surface of minuscule plastic beads).

However, there are some drawbacks to the adherent method – chiefly how expensive it is. Cell-based meat production is already very expensive because of the requirement for growth mediums, so being able to save money where possible can go some way to making this a viable alternative protein source in the future.

SCiFi says its single-cell suspension technology allows cells to be grown in standard large-scale bioreactors, enabling major economies of scale in hardware already on the market.

Single-cell suspension has previously been achieved by some companies working with chicken and fish cells, but beef has consistently proved more challenging until now.

The company says it has overcome the hurdles using a proprietary combination of CRISPR technology – a technology which is used to edit genes – and its own cell line engineering platform.

SCiFi Foods projects it will be able to produce its cultivated meat burgers for under $10 a burger in its upcoming pilot facility. It further forecasts being able to decrease this to $1 a burger when its first large-scale production plant is up and running.

Dr Kasia Gora, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of SCiFi Foods, has led the R&D work that has led to this achievement.

She said: “Cultivated meat has the potential to disrupt the trillion-dollar meat market and help build a more sustainable future, but cost has always been its biggest challenge.

“With this milestone, we’ve proven that potential is realistic with our ability to engineer beef cells that grow at low cost and large volumes. A decade ago, when the first lab-grown burger debuted in the press, it seemed like a pipedream.

“So we are proud to be taking a major leap towards making cultivated meat a reality for everybody.”

Hear what one expert thinks the future of cultivated meat looks like in this Food Matters Live podcast:

The future of protein and cultured meat with Eat Just CEO Josh Tetrick

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